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Wednesday 29 March 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Playboy Magazine The front cover of the latest Playboy Magazine - the first non-nude front cover.
This isn’t happening because of a shift in cultural attitudes towards sex; it is the result of a growth in online pornography, writes Lorraine Courtney.

PLAYBOY MAGAZINE WILL no longer include fully nude photos of women, just images of women as naked as you’d see them in any other mainstream publication.

The New York Times has already got its hands on the modest March issue and says, “there are still naked women in this newly demure version of the magazine. It’s just that they have been shot in ways intended for strategic concealment”.

You see, poor old Playboy found it outdone by the changes it had inspired. It found itself outdone by internet porn. “That battle has been fought and won,” Playboy CEO Scott Flanders said recently.

“You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

The cover for the January/February 2016 issue of Playboy, the magazine’s last to include full-on nudity, featured Pamela Anderson (wearing a choker that spelled out SEX).

Abandonment of full-frontal nudity

And from now on the magazine will abandon full-frontal nudity, which has been the core of the brand’s identity since its beginning in 1953, when it launched itself on the world with a centerfold of Marilyn Monroe.

It’s very clear what this is all about: another attempt to stop Hefner’s previously famed magazine from losing all of its relevance in a modern world and a cut-throat magazine market. There’s also a possible attempt to garner some female readers. Playboy is increasingly publishing features that might appeal to us like their spread on sexual assaults in US colleges.

PLAYBOY COVER TO COVER AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

This isn’t happening because of a shift in cultural attitudes towards sex; it is the result of a growth in online pornography. Playboy readers have migrated to harder, cheaper porn online. So why pay for the watered-down porn in Playboy magazine when you can access all genres of hardcore porn online for free?

This covering up project has nothing to do with modesty or feminism and everything to do with its dwindling sales and the fact that it is battling an internet that not only has boobs, but has internet porn generator Red Tube and its “hairy French brunette double anal plugged.” Hardly a victory really, is it? And what is Playboy without the nudity? A magazine you can actually say you read for the articles. Like all those other ones lined up on the supermarket shelves.

Increase in porn viewership in Ireland 

It seems like we are all increasingly viewing porn. The Irish Times sex survey was conducted over the course of a week in June 2015. More than four out of five (83%) people who responded sex survey said they had used porn. Porn use was much higher among men than women naturally enough, with 96%t of men saying they had used it compared with 69% of women.

This still means that seven in 10 women are also using pornography and there’s even a Feminist Porn Awards event held in Toronto each year.

This doesn’t make the porn industry right. Feminism is about men and women being equal, and though women who choose to write, produce, direct, or star in feminist porn are certainly free to make those choices, it does not automatically make films featuring women as sex slaves feminist because images depicting women subjugated to men’s sexual desires, whatever the intention behind those images was, just reinforces the old patriarchy.

Pornography as a cultural product bears many similarities to Playboy, mostly in terms of how it constructs women as sexually submissive and men as sexually active. This construction, whether it be in the mainstream or the online world, is what still needs to change.

As it stands the score is Playboy 0 – Online Pornography 1. Women however, are yet to win in either game. Anti-woman porn is still very much with us.

Lorraine Courtney is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter @lorrainecath.    

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